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Writing effective offer letters


You've invested time and effort in identifying the right person for the job, so secure their acceptance with a well-worded offer letter.


Avoid standard letters

Most firms have standard template offer letters that are inserted with name, job title, start date and salary. However, in the wake of warm, friendly, face-to-face meetings with you, such letters run the risk of coming across as lazy, impersonal and off-putting – particularly if signed by the person who actually conducted the final interview.

Why not take time to write something original, or at least to amend your firm's standard letter so that the candidate maintains enthusiasm. If they have any lingering doubts, an impersonal offer letter can tip him in the wrong direction. Write something positive instead and the chances are higher that an acceptance will be forthcoming.

When extending a job offer, certain formalities need to be respected, but that doesn't mean you need to use stiff, overly formal language. For a start, 'Dear Tom' or 'Dear Jane' is much friendlier than 'Mr Simpson' or 'Ms Duncan' – and sets the right tone.

Act now

Once you've decided to make the offer - and especially if you've already asked your recruitment consultant to tell the candidate about it - it's best to write and dispatch the offer letter that night, if possible. Contrary to some perceptions, job seekers don't tend to calculatingly stack up offers and use them to drive up their salaries. For most people, going on interviews is time-consuming and stressful, so a positive job offer, extended swiftly, can make the world of difference. Candidates we meet will often instruct us to cancel any outstanding applications on receipt of an excellent offer letter.

Sell the offer

Emphasise the most appealing benefits in the package you're offering and ideally keep conditional benefits (for instance, study support, provided exams are passed) in a separate document or 'sandwiched' between other benefits. The letter needs to sell the offer to the candidate, and small print and legal jargon can unnecessarily get in the way.

Articulate that you are pleased the candidate has succeeded in gaining a position with your firm, but don't assume acceptance. Certainly ask for it, but remember the candidate has a choice. You may want to refer to specific skills or experience that the candidate has that would enhance your business, and you might reiterate any particular projects you discussed at the interview that the candidate expressed interest in.

Always ask the candidate to call you personally if there are any queries about the offer or any other aspect of the job. Your recruitment consultant will be in touch with the candidate anyway and will alert you to anything that needs addressing, but it adds another personal angle to the letter to make yourself available for queries.

A personal touch

Candidates regularly tell us that they appreciate it when the offer letter includes an invitation during their notice period to meet the team and go for drinks or lunch with future colleagues. However confident people are, changing jobs can be unnerving and it's much better to look forward to your first day knowing you've already met the people you'll see when you walk in. It's also easy to forget that working a notice period can be a lonely time, and one in which successful candidates can be vulnerable to counter-offers or open to considering other jobs they see advertised.

The more you can do to keep your firm's name at the forefront of the candidate's thoughts, the better and making such an invitation in your offer letter is a method of 'closing' that really makes an impact. 

A Hays recruiting expert will be pleased to advise you about any aspect of your recruitment, selection or retention processes - or indeed anything else. Get in contact with your local office.